PRESS RELEASE

Rep. Capuano Introduces Empowerment Zone Flexibility Legislation

February 6, 2003 -- Rep. Michael Capuano (D-MA) and Rep. Frank Lobiondo (R-NJ), co-chairs of the bipartisan Empowered Communities Caucus, filed the Round II Empowerment Zone/Enterprise (EZ/EC) Community Flexibility Act of 2003.

"This legislation makes a number of small changes to the EZ/EC program so participating communities will have greater flexibility in administering their economic development plans," stated Rep. Capuano.

The bill authorizes $100 million in appropriations for each of the fifteen urban Empowerment Zones, $40 million for each of the five rural Empowerment Zones, and $3 million for each of the twenty rural Enterprise Communities.

The legislation also ensures that Empowerment Zones and Enterprise Communities applying for one of the new Renewal Community designations will continue to receive the EZ/EC funding they were promised in 1999. Finally, the bill allows these communities to use their funding as the local match for receiving grants from other federal programs. This will help EZ/EC communities leverage additional resources to undertake economic development initiatives and provide job training and other vital social services.

President Clinton created the Empowerment Zone program in 1994 to help revitalize urban and rural communities across the country. The City of Boston was designated an Enhanced Enterprise Community in 1994, and received an Empowerment Zone designation in 1999. The EZ has received more than $20 million in federal funding to support job training programs and community and economic development initiatives. The Empowerment Zone includes portions of the following 8th district neighborhoods: Chinatown, Dorchester, Jamaica Plain, Mission Hill, Roxbury and the South End.

$30 million for the Round II Empowerment Zone Communities is included in the omnibus appropriations bill currently under consideration by Congress. The City of Boston will receive $2 million of this funding for economic development initiatives if this legislation is approved.

"Members on both sides of the aisle are fighting to maintain the federal commitment to the Round II Empowerment Zones. Across the nation, and especially here in Boston, the EZs have been successful in creating jobs and economic opportunities. It is critical that we support this program, particularly in today's difficult economy," said Rep. Capuano.

Boston Connects, Inc. recently honored Congressman Capuano for his dedication and commitment in meeting the mission of Boston's Empowerment Zone. This non-profit organization oversees development of the Empowerment Zone in partnership with the City of Boston.

--

Contact: Alison M. Mills (617) 621-6208